Man has been in search of truth since the beginning. Man, through his ability to reflect, devised principles and philosophies to live an optimum life. Prophets from Adam till Jesus guided man in his search for truth and meaning. All these prophets had one core message: To declare that there is only one God, the creator, and sustainer of everything in the heavens and the earth and that human beings need to submit his will to Him to succeed in the hereafter. According to Islam, Prophet Muhammad is the last in this sequence.
What is Islam?
According to analysis Islam has been rated the second-largest religion in the world After Christianity. It started in 610 by the Prophet Muhammad following God’s command. Prophet Muhammad used to go for meditation in the cave of Hera that is about three kilometers east of Mecca. There one day, he received revelation from Angel Gabriel. That revelation is now part of the Holy Quran. At this point, it is important to realize that Prophet Muhammad is respected, appreciated, and followed not only by Muslims. In 1978 Michael Hart wrote a book The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History that ranked 100 people according to the impact and influence they created. Prophet Muhammed is number 1 on this list. After the first revelation in 610 Islam started as a religion.
In Mecca, Prophet Muhammad spread the message of the Holy Quran for twelve years. During these twelve years, only a few accepted Islam. The people of Quraysh, who were idol worshippers stood firmly against Islam. Quraysh persecuted and punished Muslims severely for believing in one God, and Prophet Muhammad faced life threats. As the barbarism of Quraysh increased, Muslims were commanded by God to migrate to Medina. People of Medina warmly welcomed the Muslims. Prophet Muhammad continued spreading Islamic teachings in Medina. Muslim population grew exponentially in Medina. In 632, the year Prophet Muhammad departed, he had about 1 lac companions. Islam spread beyond the Arabian Peninsula under the caliphate reign from 632 to 661, to the west it reached as far as modern Spain, and northern India in the east.
Islam is “peace”.
Islam means completely giving your life to Allah Almighty. At the heart of Islam lies the premise, “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his last messenger.” Whoever believes this statement is known as a Muslim. Quran, the book of God, describes all that a Muslim needs to know about the attributes of Allah Almighty. Quran is a life guide for a Muslim. A Muslim is someone who prays five times a day, performs Hajj(set of rituals performed in the cities of Mecca and Madina) once in a lifetime, and gives Zakat( a form of charity given on a specific amount of capital).
A Muslim believes the Holy Quran to be the word of God, a Muslim believes in all prophets before Mohammad, he believes in the unseen: the angels, the hereafter. Islam tells his believers that only those who perform good deeds will enter paradise. Islam is not merely a set of rituals and beliefs. Islam provides complete guidance in all areas of life. From politics to economy, from war to peace, from manners of eating meals to morals of living in a society, from performing hygiene and managing diet, Islam touches everything.
Islam provides light to people of all professions and ranks from leaders to followers. Islamic teachings have two parts the Holy Quran, as discussed earlier, and the hadith. One of the main reasons that separates Islam from other Abrahamic religions, Christianity and Judaism, is text of the Holy Quran.
Quran is not something compiled by Prophet Muhammad. The Quran is the word of God revealed to Prophet Mohammed for 22 years via angel Gabriel. Quran consists of 668684 letters and 157935 words, and not a single letter has been added, removed, or modified since the time of revelation. Arabs were the most eloquent poets of that time. They could narrate 100 different poems from a single letter.
They could use 100 synonyms for a single word. While the Roman and Persian empire had massive lands and army to be proud of the Bedouins of Arabs, the people of the desert had the only language. When the Quran spoke to the Arab poets they were convinced that this cannot be the word of a man. To date, the Quran has mesmerized researchers of all domains. Experts of the Arabic language are impressed by linguistic miracles and divine symmetry of the Holy Quran. Recently, a book Structure and Quranic Interpretation by Raymond Farrin suggested how certain parts and passages of the Quran arrange themselves in a circular order.
The second part of Islamic teachings is known as Hadith. A hadith means words, actions, and permissions of the Holy Prophet. Hadiths were recorded since the beginning of Islam, till 300 years. A hadith has two parts: the chain of transmitters, and the actual text. Over time scholars have prepared a knowledge known as Asma-ur-Rijal (names of men) that discuss the credibility of each person in the hadith. Books of ahadith and ahadith itself are classified into types based upon their level of authenticity. This whole struggle of scholars for 300 years tells the purity of hadith knowledge. Hadiths give a detailed explanation of subjects of the Holy Quran like, how to offer Namaz, do Hajj, and give Zakat. Life after death has been explained clearly. Furthermore, it discusses Family, Marriage, Divorce, Society, Morals, and Manners. The authenticity of the Quran and Hadith describes how pure Islam is in its sources of knowledge, which is the base of every religion in the long run.
Islam is the fastest-growing religion on the earth right now. After the 9/11 incident, Islamophobia increased. Muslims across the US were considered suspicious, but at the same time, something counterintuitive happened. The 9/11 incident gave people a chance to rediscover the teachings of Islam through the Holy Quran. Quran became the bestseller in the US within a month after the 9/11 incident. Islam became the fastest-growing religion in the United States.
Islam is a religion of peace. The Prophet Muhammad said, “A Muslim is the one who avoids harming Muslims with his tongue and hands”. After the 9/11 incident, the Muslims across the globe are considered as a threat. But it is important to realize that Islam is not what Muslims do, but what Muslims are supposed to do. Someone with a quest to know Islam should begin his journey with the translation of the Holy Quran. As no translation of any language is perfect, one should ultimately study the Holy Quran in Arabic.
Arabic is complex and distinct from other languages in many ways and hence demands necessary attention. After reading the Holy Quran, one gets an idea of why Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world and why Islam is still relevant in the 21st century. Islam is peace. Islam is complete submission to the creator of everything